Kim Adams exhibition

Gathered in the exhibition space as in a great carnival or flea market, vehicles, models of vehicles, dwellings and model dwellings compete for epistemic authority. The gallery is filled, detail upon detail, in a satirical exploration of a culture’s excessive production. Most of the works in this show are comprised of the kind of equipment used to keep in abeyance our fear of emptiness, either in terms of space or time: the tools and materials of recreational pursuits like gardening, renovating or camping.

Curator Sandra Grant Marchand has organized a glimpse of Toronto artist Kim Adams’ prodigious output in his first large-scale exhibition in Montreal. Adams resists transforming the gallery into a sculptural place of formal perceptual tension, but relies instead on space socially ordered by the ambiguous status of objects and activities relative to their designation as art. The exhibition space becomes a container “stocked” with sculptures and models. This aspect of the exhibition is consistent with Adams’ assemblage work in general: sculpture from components already assembly oriented like sports equipment, vehicles, toy model kits and household gadgets.

The kit is one of the basic modes of postmodern fabrication and this is one of the organizing themes of Adams’ work. Our urban environment, like the kit, is assembled by a series of components that, in themselves, compose a loose network that can be modified according to the will of planners. This environment provides many of Adams’ materials.

The wheel is everywhere is this exhibition. So are ersatz homes, assembly line housing, especially of the mobile variety. Also, non-mobile implements have sometimes been given mobility through the addition of wheels. In Model: Decoy Homes (1987), for example, a standard metal ironing board has become an oversize skateboard with the addition of four wheels, one at each corner. This work is either a sculpture with no base or a sculpture comprised only of bases standing one on another. The extended legs of the ironing board serve as a base as does the board itself for other elements stacked above in tiers. First, three kitchen garbage cans are housed in a construction which functions to support a second tier. Two hardware cabinets balance on this upper level and they too have wheels which rest on tracks allowing the cabinets to shuttle back and forth, but only a short distance. Both cabinets have chimneys composed of actual ducting and one has a standard galvanized metal outdoor garbage can stuck on its roof. The ensemble is precarious, and it is this aspect combined with the futility of wheels spinning in space, of vehicle/homes which track back and forth a few useless inches, that reveals a sense of ambiguous humour, bleak but compassionate for the unavoidable frailty of the “constructions” with which we comfort ourselves.

Organized along the lines of the figurative structure of linguistic operations, Adams’ works reflect on the rhetorical relations pertaining within language. For example, in He/He (1990) two tricycles are siamesed, sharing a common rear axle and driving away from each other. This vehicle is coming when it is going and vice versa, or transposed into the form of language it is an unsaying in the act of saying. He also draws humourously strained analogies: abstract themes such as the circularity of language as model/model as language manifested concretely in works featuring uselessly spinning wheels. Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel (1913) substituted contemplation for action, for history, and this suspension of the wheel’s function and the foregrounding of the sculptural base is clearly a motif for many of Adams’ works.

Earth Wagons (1989-91) is comprised of a miniature mountain resting on an assembly of a child’s wagon and two utility trailers such as are pulled behind the family car for work on the house or garden. The two trailers are supported, wheels off the ground, by jack stands which ambiguously mediate or “stand between” the institution and the art. Vehicles ride piggyback on other vehicles, a model train pulls a chain of flatcars conveying recreational vehicles, while the entire ensemble itself rests on “actual” trailers. This piece grafts the miniature onto the life-size, shifting our point of view from microcosm to macrocosm. Alternations of size and scale, from actual-size to gigantic and/or miniaturized models, these models (and all the works become models in some sense) explore mimesis: if the model is composed of items which function simultaneously to indicate a literal concrete reality and to “model” or to “look like something else,” then an absolute relativism results, creating an environment which moves ever nearer to the closure of an endless mirroring. The preponderance of quantity is itself a quality, a way of being that loses all measure. The implication for art is that the work of art may be constructed whenever and however: as in an infinitely rearrangeable cultural space that is similar to the Lego set.

In several ways Adams’ works affirm the notion of “nomadism”; his use of vehicles and of models but especially his reliance on substitution as a logic underlying and informing his mode of construction. The thing about the implements or pieces of equipment that Adams features in his sculptures is their equivalence with one another, their interchangeability. That is, one John Deere tractor is as good as another. The next step is to see that the tractor operator is equally interchangeable, and that the artist is implicated in this order as well. This interchangeability is as much a form of nomadism as the more obvious forms evoked by Adams’ use of the vehicle-home as a theme in his work.

In Modernism we find a uniformity and standardization of spaces; space conceived of as an abstract continuum: quantifiable and infinitely divisible, but above all, homogeneous in such a way that place disappears. American architect Kenneth Frampton has developed a theory of the placeform, a form which he says has a critical resistance based in presentation of a structural poetic as opposed to the re-presentation of a facade. His theory of place argues for a definition of dwellingsitedness which gathers itself only in dividing itself. In differentiating itself, Place makes room for something by creating limits, boundaries that differentiate it from other places. Such places cannot exist within the indifference of Modern or Cartesian space. Frampton argues that to accommodate differences we need, not simply space, but belongingplaces (topos) integral with the social, natural world.

In this conception of space, otherness provides critical relief from self-centeredness through creative encounter with estrangement. Nomadism undermines that possibility by its insistence on non-identity, a move, which without contrasts, cannot provide for the encounter with otherness. By undermining identity in a Nietzschean reversal, authentic relations of difference are simultaneously undermined. Otherness has the potential to function in resistance to the homogenizing of space which proceeds through the expansion of Modernity.

Where Adams’ work promotes the culturally prevalent theme of “nomadism” (interchangeability, the preferred social organization of post-industrial technological culture), we can say, along with Marchand, that it “draws us into a complicity that knows no limits.” If Adams’ work has a critical dimension it is one that rests on the ambiguities of complicity. This might be construed as “resistance,” however the real strengths of this work lie in its ability to unsettle, through mimicry and simulation, the “illusory constructs” organizing culture. When it is not weighed down by the seriousness of indusrial fabrication, there is a whimsical pleasure in the humour of Adams’ ironically “populist” vision.

An important text for museum and cultural studies

An important text for museum and cultural studies, Civilizing Rituals destabilizes binarisms such as art/artifact, ritual observed/ritual enacted, and sacred/secular. Duncan’s theoretical approach is based on notions of liminality and ritual; how the museum serves to temporarily suspend “normal” social behaviour in its effect on the visitor. The result of this suspension is that the viewer, gendered male by modernist art historical discourse and curatorial practice, is propelled towards a form of aesthetic enlightenment similar to spiritual illumination.

Within the liminal space of the art museum, Duncan argues, the (male) viewer, the male benefactor and corporate funding compose a ritualized experience that flows smoothly along the modernist trajectory. Duncan describes this experience and trajectory as characterized by a socially exclusive, economically elitist and, often, sexist conception of reality. Convincingly argued, Duncan’s feminist analysis of MOMA completes several brief but rigorous social histories of major Western museums such as the Louvre and the British National Gallery. In the final chapter, she describes how MOMA positions images of women as destructive or seductive Other to the otherwise cerebral aesthetics of modernism.

Duncan’s underlying theme is that the literal and conceptual construction of such museums maintains an eighteenth-century notion of aesthetic experience. As it has been described and desired in various philosophical and museological texts, aesthetic experience equates with revelation. Sensitive to the historical circumstances which generated the art institutions discussed, Duncan presents the gallery as a flexible tool that can have political and nationalistic purposes as well as fulfilling individuals’ need to exonerate themselves through public commemoration. Duncan balances her reading of the museum as economically motivated and culturally specific sign with a theoretically promising investigation of ritual and liminality in the gallery context. C. H.

C’est a l’occasion d’une exposition

C’est a l’occasion d’une exposition consacree a Hans Haacke, a l’ete 1995 a Barcelone, que parut ce magnifique catalogue. D’abondants documents photographiques commentes par Haacke lui-meme informent le lecteur sur les tenants et aboutissants de ses nombreuses creations. On redecouvre l’oeuvre des annees soixante avec ses structures complexes et ses systemes en temps reel. Et celle des annees soixante-dix ou Haacke entreprit de mettre en lumiere des problemes a saveur socio-politique. On revit l’affaire Shapolsky qui, en 1971, provoqua l’annulation de son exposition solo au Guggenheim. Deja Haacke, l’artiste qui entrevoyait l’art comme un mode de communication, fut <<excommunie>> du marche de l’art americain.

L’article de Walter Grasskamp retrace de Documenta en Documenta, les principaux episodes qui ont marque la carriere de l’artiste ainsi que les differentes controverses que son travail a provoquees. Nous y apprenons, par exemple, que Haacke fut engage comme photographe a la Documenta 2 (1959). Cette experience fut decisive pour lui: le marche de l’art lui apparut comme un monde regroupant des travailleurs de tous les milieux. Cette vision des choses lui fit perdre, d’entree de jeu, toute illusion quant a l’existence d’un art autonome. Deja, dans les photographies produites a cette occasion, apparaissent deux traits recurrents de son oeuvre: scepticisme et polemique.

Benjamin Buchloh, pour sa part, explore le phenomene Haacke en fonction de son implication historique et theorique. Ce qui le preoccupe surtout, ce sont les interets ideologiques qui continuent a vouloir definir l’esthetique comme la forme singuliere d’une experience desinteressee. Il cherche aussi a clarifier les fonctions repressives des concepts de pure visualite qui proscrivent la representation de l’experience historique. Enfin, il examine les effets d’exclusion que provoquent les concepts d’autonomie.

A noter, a la page 176, une interview avec l’artiste menee par Jean Papineau (tiree de Parachute, n[degrees] 56) sur des questions theoriques establissant des correspondances entre la pensee de Brecht et une oeuvre de Haacke, Voici Alcan, presentee a Montreal en 1983.

Mentionnons, pour terminer, que tous les textes sont en anglais et en espagnol. A.-M. G.

Yvonne Lammerich exposition

Espace purement plastique, construction austere et depouillee, sobre contraste de la peinture noire sur fond blanc: c’est d’abord a la tradition tout intellectuelle de l’abstraction geometrique qu’on associera les tableaux d’Yvonne Lammerich. Comment ne pas penser a De Stijl devant les Modular Self Organization of Consciousness, ou ne pas voir quelque lointain avatar du suprematisme dans les parallelogrammes en apesanteur de Multivalence Emotive State 3? Mais ce jeu des ressemblances trouve vite sa limite. L’usage d’un vocabulaire abstrait n’equivaut nullement ici a la citation retrospective d’un style, mais correspond plutot a la pratique d’un langage toujours vivant. Ne serait-ce que par l’equilibre subtil entre ordre et chaos qu’elle met en forme, cette peinture s’inscrit dans une episteme toute contemporaine – une speculation sur la structure de la conscience et de l’identite, qui s’alimente tant des sciences cognitives que de la reflexion philosophique. Si l’on pose avec Lammerich que la conscience est definie par sa plasticite et sa capacite d’autoreflexion (<<As a consciousness I exist at all points, but I must remake myself constantly. […] Consciousness equates, for me, with the awareness of that remaking.>> [Lettre de l’artiste a J. D. Campbell, in: J. D. Campbell, Painting by Dasein, Dusseldorf, Galerie Clara Maria Sels, 1992, p. 12]), on peut aborder ses peintures comme autant de representations de cette conscience et d’embrayeurs de la semiose qui la constitue en propre. Car c’est l’esprit meme du regardeur que les ambiguites spatiales de ces tableaux veulent mettre en mouvement, en l’incitant a s’engager dans toute une serie d’hypotheses perceptives et de reconstructions mentales de leur structure. De ces jeux, les oeuvres presentees l’automne dernier a la Galerie des arts visuels de l’Universite Laval (cinq peintures et une piece de verre realisees entre 1992 et 1995) permettaient d’apprecier la subtilite – d’autant que ces travaux recents se distinguent de la production anterieure de l’artiste par la quasielimination de la couleur, la palette etant reduite au blanc et a quatre teintes de noir.

La serie Modular Self Organization of Consciousness (dont trois tableaux etaient presentes, les numeros 8, 9 et 10) forme un ensemble de variations ou de petits rectangles sont distribues dans un pattern rappelant un mur de briques. Ce pattern, inscrit au centre de la toile en forme de losange, est dessine par un ensemble de lignes tracees au crayon; deux autres lignes se croisent a angle droit au centre du tableau pour diviser le plan pictural en quadrants. Ce systeme de traces, comparable a une esquisse laissee sur la toile, rend present au sein de l’oeuvre achevee le travail de conception du tableau, tout en en revelant la charpente au spectateur. Une telle partition de la toile et la projection d’un pattern sur le plan pictural rappellent evidemment la notion de grille, analysee par R. Krauss comme structure archetypale du modernisme.

Mais l’organisation rationnelle et l’orthogonalite qui paraissent a premiere vue regir ces tableaux ne s’affirment que pour etre contredites et destabilisees par tout un ensemble de tensions visuelles. Dans M.O.S.C. 8, par exemple, l’orientation des <<briques>> diverge d’un quadrant a l’autre, comme si on avait fait tourner chaque section de mur autour du centre du tableau; dans les autres peintures, la distribution inegale et le format irregulier des briques introduisent un certain arbitraire qui affecte la stabilite du pattern. Ainsi, le fait visuel premier, dans l’observation de ces peintures, c’est moins la perception d’un ordre sous-jacent que celle de l’entropie qui le perturbe – mieux, c’est la perception simultanee des deux, en une gestalt ou le desequilibre apparait sur fond d’un ordre prealable, comme si ces images etaient produites par des jeux de caches et de rotations. Regarder ces tableaux, c’est donc deja commencer a interpreter leur structure, c’est tenter de motiver leurs decalages et leurs iregularites en postulant une serie d’operations qui expliquent l’ecart de l’actuelle configuration par rapport a un etat anterieur presume. Interpretes a la lumiere du titre de la serie, ces effects de desequilibre, de diffraction, de discontinuite depeignent une conscience qui n’existe qu’en tant qu’elle se reorganise perpetuellement.

On ne saurait ainsi reduire les <<briques>> des M.O.S.C. aux simples unites modulaires d’un systeme rigide: elles en subvertissent la regle et en brouillent la lisibilite. Autonomie du plastique par rapport a l’ideel, donc, que semble confirmer la materialite affirmee de la peinture noire, appliquee en depots epais et textures qui retiennent le regard sur leurs asperites. Dans ces travaux recents de Lammerich, la grille de construction sert moins a thematiser la planeite litterale du tableau qu’a suggerer des surfaces qui se juxtaposent et se croisent dans l’espace selon des axes multiples, produisant ainsi l’illusion d’un espace tridimensionnel. Avec Multiple Time Space Zone, cet effet s’accentue jusqu’a induire un cinetisme implicite: les losanges irradiant du centre du tableau sont lus comme des carres deformes par quelque traction exercee sur la surface, comme si la peinture representait le froissement d’un tissu.

Dans Multivalence Emotive State 3, les formes tronquees semblent a la fois traduire un mouvement d’expansion et un systeme de superpositions et d’intersections. Ce tableau de grand format est sans conteste la piece maitresse de l’exposition: il condense et relance les enjeux du travail de Lammerich. Les carres et les losanges qui parsement le plan pictural selon des vecteurs multiples rendent d’autant plus difficile la reconnaissance d’un pattern-gestalt. L’eparpillement plus aleatoire des elements suggere une entropie accrue, un ordre qui s’estompe. Si le quadrillage des M.O.S.C. suscitait une association naive avec la vue aerienne d’un plan urbain, la dissemination centrifuge de Multivalence Emotive State evoque des representations moins naturalistes, plus allusives: diagramme de propagation de particules, ou configuration semblable aux generations d’automates cellulaires, tel le Jeu de la vie du mathematicien anglais John Conway. Il emane du tableau une tension singuliere, qui resulte du contraste entre le decoupage hardedge des formes, lequel suggere des regles rigoureuses d’agencement, et le caractere apparemment impromptu de leur dissemination. L’esprit de geometrie coexiste ici avec un effet troublant de spontaneite. Autre ambivalence signifiante: ces formes semblent flotter a la surface blanche de la toile comme dans une vaste etendue immaterielle, alors que la transparence et la franchise quasi rigoriste de l’execution accentuent la realite concrete du plan pictural.

L’application de ce vocabulaire formel a une piece installative, Glasswork (Aleph), est moins heureuse. L’economie et la densite qui font la qualite du travail de Lammerich sont ici diluees par la teneur decorative de l’oeuvre, due semble-t-il a l’etalement sequentiel de la composition et au materiau utilise, une serie de panneaux de verre. Alors que les tableaux de la peintre entrainent le spectateur a une vision approfondie et a une attention soutenue, la presence du Glasswork verse plutot dans l’ornemental. En depit (ou peut-etre a cause) du jeu d’ombres et de transparence qu’elle etablit avec le mur devant lequel la piece est placee, la configuration poncee sur le verre apparait comme accessoire par rapport a la presence du materiau lui-meme (le verre est un materiau fortement connote par son integration architecturale, et il oriente peut-etre en ce sens la disposition du spectateur).

Mais cet essai du cote de l’installation demontre par contraste toute la pertinence de l’oeuvre picturale d’Yvonne Lammerich. Tout en incarnant une recherche eminemment cerebrale, ses tableaux s’imposent par leur plenitude sensible et leur spatialite harmonieuse et sereine. Au necessaire effort d’intellection qu’elle exige, la peinture de Lammerich associe toujours ce qu’il faudrait bein appeler – autre pole definiteur de l’oeuvre d’art, du reste – le plaisir du percept.

Castellini Launches New Web Site

At long last, renowned comic artist, Claudio Castellini has his own web site. the new web site, created by Integrated Web Solutions and ComicBookPros sports galleries of past work, downloadable wallpapers and original artwork for sale.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for some time now, thankfully, I was introduced to the Integrated Web Solutions team and they were able to understand my goals and work with me to get the web site where I wanted it.” said Claudio. “As we move forward, we will continue to add to the new web site and continue to deliver everything my fans have asked for.”

The new web site now includes over one hundred images spawning Castellini’s entire career. Additionally and for the first time, Claudio Castellini’s original artwork will be sold online.

For more information or to purchase original artwork by Claudio Castellini contact Sam Abbinanti.

Castellini Covers Atomika

Here’s a look at the cover for Atomika #8 by our own, Claudio Castellini. “Besides being among the greatest cover artists on the planet, Claudio is a good friend,” said Sal Abbinanti, Mercury Comics’ Creative Director and creator of Atomika. ” To see this cover come from the early sketches and thumbnails to the final was, for me, exciting to watch. It’s really not often you get to see the thinking process behind an artist like Claudio. I think the cover speaks for itself.”

Claudio Castellini entered the world of comics in 1986 by winning the first prize at the ninth International Convention of Prato. Quickly after that he joined the staff of ‘Dylan Dog’. Castellini was influenced by Marvel illustrators like John Buscema and Neal Adams. After a series of covers, Castellini realized the graphic novel of ‘Silver Surfer’. Claudio Castellini also illustrated a number of copies of ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ as well as being featured on covers by nearly every major comic publisher.

Castellini Joins ComicBookPros

Renowned artist Claudio Castellini has launched his first ever official art website at featuring news on his upcoming work, galleries, and original art, much of which has never been available to the public before.

Castellini made his debut in 1989 with a story for Dylan Dog, a popular Italian horror character published by Sergio Bonelli Editore, which was followed by another one in the September of the following year. In 1991 he was the graphical creator of Nathan Never, a science-fiction series for which he drew covers until number 59.

His love for technical details, influenced by artists like Neal Adams and John Buscema, was at its best in his first story for Marvel Comics, a Silver Surfer graphic novel written by Ron Marz. After covers for Comic Powers Unlimited and Elektra Magazine, a stint on Fantastic Four Unlimited (1993-1995), he worked to the crossover Marvel vs. DC, which made him popular to the American audience.

Castellini latest works include Spider-Man, Conan the Barbarian and Batman: Gotham Knights.

In addition to galleries and news updates, also features exclusive downloadable wallpapers, and a large selection of original art for sale, including comic art featuring the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Atomika, Red Sonja and a number of the original pages from the Marvel vs. DC crossover series.